This Show is Rated G for Gullible

Amazing there are still people (like my mother) out there who fall for the staged performances of the Bush crowd.

A story in the St. Petersburg Times exposes the process for how “ordinary folks” are recruited for presidential appearances. Bush speaks in Tampa, across the bay from St. Pete, Friday.

Let’s see, who would definitely support putting Social Security money in the stock market? How about securities traders?

” Susan Hartman, a Raymond James financial planning consultant, who belongs to the Securities Industry Association, sent out the e-mail searching for volunteers Monday.”

There was no question about what the President wanted to hear.

“Recipients of the e-mail sent out to employees at Raymond James were asked to explain how they wanted Social Security changed – not if they wanted it changed.”

Yes, just folks, like you and me and Grandma.

“Are they ordinary American citizens? Yes and no,” said Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The White House “will look through the pool for people who say the magic words they want to hear.”

The White House does not deny this.

“When the president travels outside Washington to participate in a conversation on a particular subject, we would look at individuals who have a vested interest in a particular subject or have an important story to tell,” said Taylor Gross, a White House spokesman.

Why should they deny it? It’s working for them great.

Two-thirds of SOTU Watchers Were Idiots

Guardian UK:

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 66 percent of people who watched his State of the Union speech said his Social Security proposals will move the country in the right direction. That’s up from 51 percent of Americans surveyed before the speech. Three in four said Bush made a “convincing case” that the government needs to take action in the next couple of years to change the system.

The telephone survey of 485 speech watchers, conducted Wednesday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

CIA Admits Iraq Had No Chemical Weapons

So now will all the wingnuts apologize for lambasting folks like former weapons inspector Scott Ritter and others who dared contract the Bush Administration’s bogus claims in the run-up to the war? Not bloody likely.

Concord Monitor:

In a formal acknowledgment of the obvious, the CIA has issued a classified report revising its prewar assessments on Iraq and concluding that Baghdad abandoned its chemical weapons programs in 1991, according to intelligence officials familiar with the document.

The report marks the first time the CIA officially has disavowed its prewar judgments, and is one in a “series” of updated assessments the agency is producing as part of a belated effort to correct its record on Iraq’s alleged weapons programs, officials said.

For an agency that prides itself on providing the latest intelligence to policymakers, even the title of the new report reads like a year-old headline: “Iraq: No Large-Scale Chemical Warfare Efforts Since Early 1990s.”

Olbermann vs. the Wingnuts

Glad to see this highlighted over at AmericaBlog. If you really hate Bill O’Reilly there is actually something you can do: Watch “The Countdown” with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, which comes on at the same time as “The Factor.” I won’t besmirch Keith’s journalistic integrity by calling him a “liberal” but as a regular viewer of his show I can tell you that he comes closest to Jon Stewart in calling the Bushies on the bushit.

From Keith’s blog, Bloggermann:

…The Three-Card Monte Players at Dr. James Dobson’s “Focus On The Family” have reopened the can of worms that is SpongeBobGate, and have focused not on the family but on me, and in so doing embarrassed themselves and undermined the validity of their own concerns.

Dobson, you will recall, joined the singularly inoffensive animated character “SpongeBob SquarePants” to his conspiracy theories of a “pro-homosexual” agenda, in order to get headlines. When he got those headlines, he promptly complained about getting them. Dobson, like many other exploiters of Amoral Values, ran immediately to the easiest way out of a stupid fix of his own creation: he blamed the big old ugly media.

His website asked readers to send emails of protest to me and four other reporters who had covered this foofery – it even provided them with an email-generator with which to do so. But because I responded to nearly all of those missives with something other than “I’m sorry, please don’t send me to hell,” Dobson has determined I need more exposure.

So Keith gets what he deems a rather underwhelming amount of emails from the wingnuts – a very small amount of mail compared to the response after he dared to report on questions about the validity of the vote count in Ohio in November.

[…]

Ted Turner Compares Fox News to Nazis

Thank God for Ted Turner, the Mouth of the South. Maybe he should be chairman of the DNC! From North County News/AP:

Cable news pioneer Ted Turner used an appearance before a group of television executives to criticize the Fox network as a “propaganda voice” of the Bush administration and to compare Fox News Channel’s popularity to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany before World War II.

Turner, 66, in a speech Tuesday before about 1,000 people at the National Association of Television Programming Executives targeted “gigantic companies whose agenda goes beyond broadcasting” for timidity in challenging the Bush White House.

“There’s one network, Fox, that’s a propaganda voice for them,” Turner said. “It’s certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy when the news is ‘dumbed-down.”‘

Fox News in New York issued a statement Tuesday saying, “Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network and now his mind — we wish him well.”

Turner stepped down as vice chairman of AOL Time Warner in May 2003.

During a wide-ranging hour-long question-and-answer session moderated by former CNN anchorman Bernard Shaw, Turner called it “not necessarily a bad thing” that Fox ratings top CNN and other cable news networks.

“Adolf Hitler was more popular in Germany in the early 30s than … people that were running against him,” Turner said in remarks videotaped by conference administrators. “So, just because you’re bigger doesn’t mean you’re right.”

Convention spokeswoman Michelle Mikoljak said the association had no comment about Turner’s comments and that Turner was no longer in Las Vegas at the conference that continued Wednesday at the Mandalay Bay Event Center.

Turner heads an Atlanta-based philanthropic and business empire that includes restaurants serving buffalo steaks and other American dishes.

He wrote an article published last summer in the Washington Monthly magazine titled “My Beef With Big Media” in which he focused on what he called a loss of quality, localism and democratic debate.

Christian Coalition sued for welching on debt

It’s not like they don’t have the money!

From the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

The nonprofit Christian Coalition of America is being sued in Tarrant County in an $87,000 dispute with an Oklahoma direct mail company.

Global Direct of Tulsa, Okla., filed the lawsuit in Tarrant County civil court recently, saying the coalition failed to provide a mailing list to the company to conduct a mass mailing solicitation program.

Global Direct said in court documents that the coalition had promised to use as much of the proceeds as necessary to pay off an $87,000 debt outstanding with the Oklahoma company.

The suit says the debt has not yet been paid.

North Korea says it has never had an AIDS case

Considering the plenitudes of woes suffered by the people of North Korea, it is a downright miracle the country has never had an AIDS case. The reason for this miracle, according to a commie gubmint official, is an even bigger miracle: Turns out the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is completely homo-free. Not one homosexual in the whole country. Ever.

Rex Wockner in Windy City Media Group:

You gotta love wacky North Korea. Last month the nation reported that it has never had an AIDS case and also doesn�t have any homosexuals.

The AIDS statistics could be true. This is, after all, the most closed, isolated, secretive nation on the planet. But no gays? Poor, deluded North Korea.

The claims were reported by the Pyongyang Times in an interview it did with Han Kyong Ho, director of the wonderfully named Central Hygienic and Anti-Epizootic Center of the Democratic People�s Republic of Korea Ministry of Health.

�The DPRK is the sole country on the earth that has no AIDS-related patient so far,� Han said. �As a medical worker I feel sure that there will not occur a case in the DPRK in the future, either. The DPRK … encourages the population to have a noble viewpoint towards love, marriage and family, and observe a sound lifestyle. The country has neither licensed and private prostitutes nor homosexuals and drug addicts.�

There�s more. �The socialist system in the country has nothing to do with any socio-economic background giving rise to all descriptions of immorality and depravity,� Han said. �The sound lifestyle prevailing in the society will be upgraded more and more as the people�s standard of ideology and culture is on the rise and education on the socialist morality develops. It is crystal clear that AIDS can never penetrate into this environment.�

I suppose if police keep all foreigners under watch 24/7, North Korea could stay AIDS-free. But, Han did note that 27 foreign workers who tested HIV-positive recently were sent home at their own requests. At some point, a foreign worker who doesn�t know he�s HIV-positive and one of those non-existent North Korean homosexuals are gonna do the deed in a broom closet, beyond the eyes of prying officials, and Han�s disease-free utopia will be history.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day…

The Guardian has new details on President Bush’s grandfather’s financial entanglements with the Nazis:

George Bush’s grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company’s assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator’s action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The debate over Prescott Bush’s behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the “Bush/Nazi” connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis’ plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler’s rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

Remarkably, little of Bush’s dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush’s business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.

While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen’s US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war.